[NOTE: To really understand this story, you have to start at the beginning…]

When one fish dies, one can say many things… 

But when two fish die, suddenly it goes from unfortunate circumstance to serial fish killer.

Darla – was she misunderstood or a true fish killer?
(C) Disney/Pixar

Though not a word has been said, I still stink of the crime committed. While going through the irrational emotional roller coaster that these two little fishies set me on, my family laughed at me and empathized, laughed with me and ridiculed, laughed and told me to suck it up. Now that both fish are history – silence.

Did she or didn’t she?!

Paul Jr., the bigger, heartier fish, lasted 2 days longer than Paul. His emotionless stare seemed happier that he swam the full circumference of the tank.  He bobbed around enjoying his pirate ship. We discussed getting Paul a companion, but wanted to see how this fair fish would fare first.

I tried bribing the kids with hamsters because I prefer furry and sawdust mess to fish any day.

Fish vs. Fur

We concluded that while our cats were blissfully unaware of the fish at this point, we knew that wouldn’t be the case if we had hamsters.

Sadly, Monday morning before school, Carson said “Where’s Lauren’s fish?!”  My mind immediately thought:

  • Oh Carp! The kids are joking
  • If it jumped out of the tank, the kids better find it
  • If we can’t find it, the cats better find it because I don’t want a zombie fish apocalypse

Thank you Sparky for showing me I am not alone in my zombie goldfish terror.

Quickly without much fanfare, the fish was flushed. This was becoming too familiar a scene and we still made it to work on time.

Same routine, different day.
Swim free little fishie!

I would never intentionally hurt animals. I floundered with fish ownership but it’s just not something I do well.  My family forgets that my childhood fish were thanks to my dad’s TLC.  My family has fallen silent, no last words, no condolences. Perhaps they’re suspicious that a double fishicide took place here and afraid that if they mention it that I might send them to… sleep with the fishies.

Seriously my worst nightmare!     (No, not my Dad)



R.I.P. Pauls


After returning to earth and disembarking Knott’s highest ride,

Wandering free, wish I could be
part of that world…
301 feet above sea level!

the stink of fish permeated my thoughts. I was in over my head with 2 new goldfish.

Ending this first day of Lauren’s 8th birthday celebration, my kids were exhausted! Usually I’d encourage sleeping on the way home. This time I kept conversation flowing, sang songs, “Fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads…” and warned that if they fell asleep dropping the tanks, the fish wouldn’t survive against zoobles and pokemons inhabiting our car floor.

After making it home intact, the fishies spent the night locked in the bathroom – safe from our cats, and me.

Paul Jr. (left) and Paul (right) laying low.

My son was anxious to add water, since my dad taught him the proper technique, but I reminded him it must reach room temperature first. I insisted I knew how to care for sturdy goldfish. Before bed, I found our old tank, rinsed it out (no soap – duh!) poured fresh water in to sit overnight.

Saturday morning the kids couldn’t wait to introduce the Pauls to their roomier home.  I carefully scooped each fish into the bubble tank.

Enjoying their new water front home!

They swam, ate and napped – a familiar pattern in our house. Carson thought differently, “Is my fish dead?” I denied everything, “He’s sleeping! He’ll move, just watch!”

Instant panic washed over me, as my phobia stems more from dead fish than living.  My mind flipped between pain I caused and flushing him too early. My vet tech sister said “Poke him!” Ew, I was definitely not touching him!  Besides we had a date for part 2 of Lauren’s birthday.

My gift this year was dinner and a movie in Hollywood!

After a night of sundaes, stage shows, prayers for fish miracles and beautifully restored movie theatres, we returned to the sad realization, Paul was dead.  Being the horrible ichthyophobic mother that I am, I hid in the hallway avoiding seeing the corpse as Carson fished it out and dropped it in the toilet.

A few kind sentiments before setting him afloat.
WTF: Way to flush!

Carson said a few words of prayer, Lauren boasted her fish was still alive, and Carson reflected upon the somber moment.

YOU did this, Mom! You forgot drops to neutralize the chlorine!

I tried to comfort, “We did the best we could! Please hold the handle down for 5 seconds so he makes it to the ocean.”

The End, or is it?…


As with any good fish tale, this one keeps getting longer…

Consider subscribing (to the right) and you’ll be notified when the conclusion is shared here.


People say this is how it happens, but I never thought it would happen to me.  My life changed in the blink of an unblinking eye!  I went from being a loving mom to a suspect in a crime.

More special than other days, last Friday held big meaning as I’d be reuniting with my kids! After days of grandparent spoiling, they couldn’t wait for Lauren’s weekend-long birthday celebration! I drove as quickly as I could obeying all laws and speed limits.  I parked my car, leaped from the driver’s seat, and ran around the back, arms outstretched to capture both kids at once! I heard a high pitched shriek – was it my daughter eager to greet me, or my own voice screaming in horror as I coiled back from what appeared before my son?

WTF? What the Fish?!

My son stood, beaming, clenching a little clear plastic box with a shimmery flicker reflecting sunlight from within.  He stepped forward, “Mom, meet Paul and PJ (Paul Jr.)!” Goldfish – only they weren’t gold, they were black, tarnished goldfish. I held back every negative emotion and memory and got close enough to the fish to kiss my kids quickly on the cheeks.

Immediately, the voices outside my head got jumbled, “Threw balls,” signals crossed, “Colored Water,” and over-lapped, “Hit a bump!” They got more urgent, “…Big splash,” louder “On rug flipping out!” and angrier, “My new car!”

“Aaah!” I yelled! “Carefully put the fish in our car, make sure the lid is tight so they can’t escape and don’t knock them over when you close the door!”

As we put the distance of the parking lot between us and the Pauls, my knot of anxiety loosened.  I talked my daughter onto the circular swing ride 301 feet up – only to have her shoving “Rock On!” fingers into the air after the first rotation while my fingers gripped her so tightly leaving marks.

Nervous to go on the tall ride
but she dove in head first!

That ride put it in perspective for me that at 42, I could barely rationalize my fear of heights, but I could not rationalize my fear of fish, so I decided to try to work through my fear. Things didn’t go as swimmingly as hoped…

To be continued…


My family and I visited family in Hungary recently. I won’t bore you with tales of family fun and unforgettable memories; I’ll get straight to the food!  One day I’ll drive a truck full of mouth-watering Hungarian food to a neighborhood near you if I can talk my family into quitting their day jobs to hit the road with me. If someone else tries, they owe me dough (fried).

Food in Hungary boasts beautiful colors!

My chemist brother-in-law and my didn’t-cook-for-30-years-of-her-life sister, boast mad recipe translating skills!  My lawyer brother-in-law handles the paperwork and cooking rig – the man knows how to tailgate.  His wife, (my other sister) sets the perfect scene on our stretch of blacktop near you layering dried red paprika, hand-embroidered tablecloths and lively Gypsy music! I build and promote the social media community. Once we get people to taste the food, they’ll be hooked.

Favorite pasttime on our trip!

Here are some delectable ideas to simmer on. These items are portable, easy to prep anywhere (or pre-prep and heat on the grill before serving):


A family favorite my grandmother used to make and I fake. These flat doughnut-size fried doughs tasted awesome with garlic, or sugar sprinkled on them. In Hungary, it’s like street pizza in size and toppings.

Sour Cream and Cheese – very popular!


These crossed the heartiness of a bacon buttery scone, and a light dinner biscuit tasting like gold  when popped into one’s mouth!

See my noseprints on the glass?


This chimney cake was light andcrispy sugary outside.  Baked on wooden cylinders, we’d need a mechanism to cook a few at a time, like a wall of gyros meat spits.

Twisted, the way I like it!


Possibly the most popular soup in Hungary, which varies by region or what one finds in the kitchen, gulyas simmers meats with veggies and hand-cut dumplings for hours in a pot manly enough for your guy to tend to.

Every Gulyas tasted better than the last!

Chicken Paprikas in Palacsinta:

Knowing portable food sells well, these crepe-like wraps hold a rich mushroom and chicken paprikas inside. RICH!

Chicken paprikas and palacsinta? Pinch me!

Fried fish:

Not on the menu.  Here’s why.

Stop staring at me!


A sweet treat, these light fried pastries boasted fresh sour cherry filling within their powdered sugar, bubbly exterior.

Can’t stop at just one!

There are others, but these lingered longest on our taste buds.  If you created a food truck, what would it be?


I typed today’s entry without looking at the screen, hiding my eyes from the pictures. I hate fish – ichthyophobia.  I don’t mind living fish, I visit aquariums, crave sushi, but hate dead fish. I hope that acknowledging my fear lessens its hold.

Gives me the willies just looking at him.



– Fishing with Dad who makes me stick my fingers in the gills to hold fish for a picture
– I wake up to my dog licking my guppy. I don’t know which scarred me more: that my fish killed himself jumping from the tank or that the dog ate him
– Sea World Annual Membership – fed lots of dead fish to whales

Who’s hungry for fish ‘n’ chips? Pass the malt vinegar!

– My dad and I deep-sea fish! I love fishing and sit patiently all day casting and reeling in! Refuse to touch fish to bait the hook or release my catch
– Hand-pick 10 guppies from babysitter’s tank! Bonus: One births 14 babies! I change the water and later find a silver film

The horror!

– 24 carcasses castigating me
– My dad gets goldfish with buggy eyes. It lasted 2 days – 2 days too long

Making eye contact is unnerving.

– Next, Siamese Fighting Fish – Beautiful til it caught Yuck! and sunk like a rock
– Visiting China with my Grandmother, every meal for weeks had fish corpses on a platter. People scraped its meat right from its body with forks. I couldn’t even hold the plate holding the fish

So fresh, I know they felt my fork.

– Boy hangs dead fish on a rope outside my dorm window to show me he cares

– Horrified by music video with dying fish

– Buy a house: Receive welcome gift of mangled koi in yard. When my ex finally goes to remove it, it’s vanished
– To end the cycle of ichthyophobia with me, I bravely walk past grocery fresh fish displays for my children while diverting my attention elsewhere because if one moves I’ll scream

Eyeless fillets with skin on them, still a no-no

– Millions of silver fish beach themselves along our coast in Southern CA. While the sparkly silver would normally attract me, it’s horrifying to me.

What did this fish-astrophe mean?

Strangely, I eat fish, but only with no signs of fishdom – no skin, no bones, no head.  Next we’ll  cover my fear of eating things that look like they did when they lived. What fears do you have?

2010’sThe fishtales get longer – no exaggeration!

Share your story & you may reach the one person who needed to hear it most.


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